A Pro Athlete in Startups: It’s Human Nature to Relax When You Win

@trevor_hufman | a pro athlete’s approach to deadlines in success mode

Hitting and making self-made deadlines is especially important for the startup entrepreneur, the self-made athlete, the small business, and the high achiever who has no one looking over their shoulder.

Making deadlines (and hitting them) is one of biggest my challenges after life in pro sports, but it’s a necessary evil (and it’s not that evil actually) to understand and accomplish, over and over and over, until you reach your goals.

What are your goals?

You want to drop 20 pounds?

2. You want to make a million dollars?

3. You want to live in a mansion and drive a Ferrari?

4. You want to live happier, more useful life?

Well, let’s start with making your first deadline.

1. Be at the gym tomorrow at 7:00am and do my workout (you can find those at thuffman24 on Instagram). Can’t work out in the morning? Come find me at night then. I typically get two hours of fitness in every day because it’s a deadline (a goal) I set for myself.

2. A million dollars isn’t easy. That takes a plan. A business. A job. How do you make more money? Well, you get so good at your job, people pay you more. Then you save. Cut expenses. Minimilize your life. Live in a van. Downsize. Invest in passive income plays. Here’s a deadline for you: pay off all your debt by the end of the month and spend less than $50 a day on stupid shit.

3. Mansions are dumb. I won’t help you there.

4. Make a deadline to start mediating, yoga, doing one thoughtful thing a day for friends, or strangers alike. Happiness is a byproduct of usefulness and helping others.

Deadlines aren’t evil, they are fun challenges you make for yourself. They can be something as little as reading 10 pages of something you are interested in every day (ps. ten pages over a year is comes out on average to almost ten books or novels per year).

Setting deadlines is a successful habit to get into.

And it all starts with propelling oneself with attainable, realistic, small goals, and making your word law.

I don’t give a shit what it is; from stock investing to being a successful triathlete, to being a better parent, it comes down to having small deadlines for yourself and following through.

Think about winning a championship in sports for a moment.

If my high school coaches never expected me to be in before school started working on my game, would I have reached my potential and hit my deadline to be a division one basketball player?

That was my goal, not theirs.


Of course not.

It’s human nature to relax when everything is peachy.

Relax when you are dead, or when you schedule a travel vacation.

Stick with the deadline approach if you want to keep being successful in whatever you do.

Unless you are obsessed (and have been obsessed) with something you have a deep, deep knowledge of, and are already an expert in, you are probably underachieving.

I know the feeling after winning a title in pro basketball, and having my summer workouts go to shit.

Ahh, tomorrow, I’d tell myself.

And then a day would go by and I’d miss the chance at growing my game and having more success as a player.

Or during the season even, after a huge win, I’d get home, crack a beer, have a shot of tequila (this is Europe, people, my God don’t be savages), and get ready to go out for the night. Typically my next day would be recovering from not only the game, but from the drinking and partying.

Yes, I know, I should have been more professional, but damn man, I was making money, I was popular (okay, not really), and I had all these superficially great things going for me, why not get out and enjoy life?

Well, that’s the brain’s way of tricking you. Michael Jordan went out and he woke up to train the next day. It’s why he was the best ever. But our brain wants to win the little battles, to make you give in a little. To lower your standards. To let up. To let that deadline go by and not worry. To not write. To not work. To not close the deal. To not train. To not finish.

Stephen Pressfield, one of my favorite writers talks about the voice of resistance that speaks to us as we try to go pro in our passions, jobs, careers, and startups,but it’s our subconscious mind that wants to fuck everything up when we start moving in the direction of our deepest dreams, goals, and work.

Now, I’m not saying relaxing or downtime isn’t important. I’m not Gary Vaynerchuk. Relaxing is important. It is. I’m saying you choose your days, times, moments, or weekends to relax versus that voice that changes your typical plan for greatness.

I feel Tim on the Netflix, YouTube, and Instagram distractions. For us to truly achieve our potential, we have to set that shit aside and demand to finish what is most important to our lives.

Write everyday, naaaahhhhh, go to the park and hang with your friends first, says my voice.

Workout and get a six pack, nahhhhhhhh, go to the bar and hang out with my friends first says my resistant voice.

If I lost a basketball game, I took it hard. I would give myself a deadline for shots taken, miles run, speed ladders in the sand sprinted, weights lifted, and I’d practice twice a day until the next game.

Instead of going out, I’d go home, sit in an ice bath and get ready to work the next morning. I’d get ready to meet my deadline. And that’s super fucking important.

The difference is awareness of knowing what voice you are listening too and why deadlines help you remain true to the voice that cares about you. The voice of self-love wants you to be useful, to give back, to impact people and show up.

So getting ready to meet your deadline means you have to take care yourself first. Your loose ends. Your wife. Your husband. Your kids. Your paperwork.

Then you have to set aside that time to meet your deadline and go HAM (hard asa mothaf$cker).

When you get that first raise, or new pay check, start making a new deadline for growth.

When you get that new raise, (and spend it on a dumbass purse).

When you get the at hot, sexy, smart, funny girlfriend and after a few months, you treat her like you did all the rest of them.

Make new deadlines for yourself to be an even boyfriend. Hell, like actually make her dinner and light a candle and have it made for her before she gets home.


Remember it’s human nature to relax. It’s amateur hour if you do, and I’m guilty of it. I know how hard it is. If you fall off the wagon, get back on as soon as you can.

You’ll be happy you did.

Good luck! Read more of my Pro Sports Wisdom to Weird Habits & Life Lessons!

A former 13-year overseas pro point guard, head coach, startup founder, and aspiring typist on culture, sports, and self-improvement. >> www.trevorhuffman.com

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